Beastars is a very deceptive manga. It presents a seemingly gentle and heartwarming story using a very disney-esque illustration. Which is why I didn’t follow this manga when it was initially published.
Thankfully when the series near the end of its life, I got my act together and started reading Beastars from the very first page. Needless to say, I was blown away. It is way better than I ever expected it to be.
I’ve been meaning to write about these story arcs for quite a while now but I always put it off and choose to cover other titles instead. Well, one thing led to another and I found myself having to write about Beastars on some other platform. So here is Beastars story arcs reviewed in chronological order.
- Drama Club Arc: Ch. 01-17 | Vol. 01-03
- Meteor Festival Arc: Ch. 18-49 | Vol. 03-06
- Murder Incident Solution Arc: Ch. 50-99 | Vol. 06-12
- Interspecies Relations Arc: Ch. 100-123 | Vol. 12-14
- Revenge of The Love Failure Arc: Ch. 124-196 | Vol. 14-22
!!!MILD SPOILERS ALERT!!!
1. Drama Club Arc: Ch. 01-17 | Vol. 01-03
This is very interesting. Paru Itagaki-sensei said in the blurb of his book that Beastars is actually a human drama but with animal actors. And I couldn’t agree more with this description.
By using the metaphor of carnivores and herbivores, the story manages to showcase a clear division in a society. They attempt to coexist together, with each side having to sacrifice some crucial parts of their identity for the sake of a greater good, highly mimicking what we see in the real world.
What a fantastic way to talk about the topic. Disney’s Zootopia arguably used a similar concept first, but Beastars just takes it to a whole another complex level.
The story for this first arc itself is also quite interesting. Focus on a slowburn drama with a hint of mystery in it. I usually yawn when I read such a thing, but this one is interesting enough to keep me awake the whole time.
But the star of the story is without a doubt the characters. Every character in this arc has a very distinct personality. And their thoughts and actions are very relatable and highly grounded in real life.
Honestly, what keeps me reading this manga at this point is the characters. I want to know more about them.
As for the art, it is really a mixture of a lot of things. On one hand, you got the seemingly sloppy background with uneven lines and jagged edges. The shadings also look very rough. The art looks sort of child-like or amateurish at times. I don’t know whether it was the style that the author was going for or was it simply due to the lack of skill.
On the other hand, the anatomy and perspective are always on point. Not only that, the use of extreme angles are very prominent here. And the light, man…what a dramatic way of using light.
And one other thing, the panels are also very unique yet still flow very nicely from one to the other. The panel placements, the shapes, the size, the use of transitional panels, everything is so dynamic and fresh. I like it.
I think this is a very good starting point. I hope the story will pick up the pace a bit and the art will improve, but overall, a very promising first arc that is brimming with potential.
2. Meteor Festival Arc: Ch. 18-49 | Vol. 03-06
There’s a scene where Legosi, the main character, eats an egg sandwich from the egg that was laid by the hen sitting beside her. That is such a surreal and awkward scene. I love it.
The main goals of this arc are two things, worldbuilding and character development. And this arc manages to do that flawlessly. Not only do we get to see different parts of the world, but we also get the chance to witness the unique dynamic of interspecies relationships, such as the one scene that I mentioned earlier.
Itagaki-sensei creates a very vibrant world filled with subtle nuances that makes it instantly felt believable and properly lived-in. Some of the ideas thrown in this arc are so unique and original that I can’t help but amaze by how much the author cares and thinks about this diverse place.
As if that is not impressive enough, Beastars also managed to properly develop some of its key characters. Through interconnected events and incidents, the characters are forced to venture outside of their comfort zone and change. They are forced to grow, for better or worse.
This arc instantly turned what seems to be surface level characters into individuals that have their own worries and reasons. By putting them in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar position, we get to dig deeper into their psyche and witness their true self. That is a masterclass in character development right there.
And in the midst of all that, it still managed to leave some surprises for the readers. Due to its slow pace, I thought this one would focus more on the drama aspect of the story. But as the story progressed, the pace also sped up.
New genres such as thriller, mystery, crime, and action are slightly injected into the story. Until it finally reaches its crescendo in a very spectacular, surprising, and satisfying fashion.
Meteor Festival Arc provides a very complete arc while still leaving mysteries and cliffhangers that would make me hungry for more. I really like this arc and I can’t wait to read the next one.
3. Murder Incident Solution Arc: Ch. 50-99 | Vol. 06-12
What would happen if a middle aged Yakuza lion, his teenage deer boss, and a cross-dressing wolf walk into a bar? That is the kind of hilarity and absurdness that you’ll see in this arc.
This arc is the best one in the series so far. It has everything that I like about Beastar, all packed nicely into a well crafted arc. A heartwarming drama, a tasteful worldbuilding, a well-paced story, great character development, a sense of thrill and mystery, wonderful romance, surprising comedic moments, and exciting action sequences.
Unlike all of the previous arc, this one has a clear goal from the very beginning. A hunt for a murderer. And everything that happens in this arc is connected to that one goal. But there are other activities as well that prevent it from becoming monotonous and boring.
There’s a reason for everything that the characters’ do and say. While I’m not always agree with their way of thinking, I understand why they do what they do. I can relate to them. Beastars is one of those rare shounen manga that could make me say that.
There’s also some flashbacks and mini training sessions in this arc. I don’t usually like those things, because more often than not, it will only work as a way to slow the story down.
But here, that is not the case at all. Everything was created in such a way to make us care and understand the characters. In fact, it was done so well that I couldn’t really hate any characters in this arc, not even the murderer.
Despite it being Paru Itagaki-sensei’s debut manga, I believe she is one of the best writers when it comes to creating a character-driven story and crafting a believable yet mesmerizing world at the same time. I can’t wait to read the next arc.
4. Interspecies Relations Arc: Ch. 100-123 | Vol. 12-14
This is one of the shortest arcs in the series. And it focuses heavily on the slice-of-lie aspect of the story.
Here we see how the characters move on with their life after the big event at the end of the last arc. Some continue on with their daily life while others take a big step that would change the course of their life forever.
As usual, the main focus of this arc is the character development and world building. We get to see all of the main characters grow in their own unique way. And we also get to see new and interesting places in the world of Beastars.
There are also several important characters introduced here. Characters that I’m sure will greatly impact the story going forward.
I know there’s a huge arc coming up after this one. So in a way, this could be considered to be the interlude. Or the bridge that would lead us to the chorus, if you will. A change for the characters and the readers to take a breather and the author to slow down the pace for a while.
Overall, quite a chill and adorable little arc.
5. Revenge of The Love Failure Arc: Ch. 124-196 | Vol. 14-22
This is the longest arc in this series and also one of the most coherent one. There’s a clear objective being told right at the start of the arc and it sticks to that objective throughout. It’s like the combination of all the arcs before it and turning everything up to eleven.
And I have mixed feelings about it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. Very good. The slice of life aspect of the story is even more dramatic than before and the action sequence is also more exciting than before. And the occasional comedic moments and philosophical talks in between makes everything feel so complete and satisfying.
So what’s up with the mixed feelings, you might ask.
Well, my problem with it is the pacing. The story really takes its time to get to the point. It drags on for more than it should. There’s too much excess fat in it. Granted, it is a high quality, premium fat, but it is unnecessary fats nonetheless.
I mean, why does it take so many tries for the Beastars to catch the bad guy? I know he is one of the most charismatic bad guys not only in the series, but in manga as a whole, but it feels like the heroes got nerfed for some reason.
If this arc finished at least one volume early, it would’ve been a much more robust arc. Sadly it does not end in volume 21 and as a result the story was being dragged on for a while.
And when it comes to the art, man…it is such a contrast to the first arc. Everything looks so crisp and clean and yet so stylish and brimming with personality. The level of improvement in the art throughout the series is simply mind boggling.
As for the ending itself, I believe it is a very suitable ending and certainly consistent with the characters’ personality and development thus far. Paru Itagaki-sensei found an appropriate ending that managed to tie all of the chaotic stuff that happened throughout the series into one satisfying end.
There are a lot of good things that could be said about Beastars, but the foundation of it all, the backbone of the story, if you will, is the character development and worldbuilding.
Paru Itagaki-sensei has created a cast of well-rounded characters that live in a believable world filled with subtle details and nuances. And to me, that is one of the most important aspects of a story.
That’s why despite any of its flaws that I’ve mentioned above, Beastars remains as one of my favorite manga. And it certainly deserves a place in the “greatest of the decade” conversation.